“Blatantly offensive, revolting, disgusting, and demeaning,” wrote a third-party arbitrator in his 19-page scathing judgment last Friday that refused to overturn the indefinite suspension of Officer Matthew Luckhurst for what the officer called a “prank.” (Read the full ruling at the bottom of the article.)
The arbitrator clearly did not see the humor in what Luckhurst did one evening in June 2016, describing it this way in his ruling:
“The Appellant defecated in a toilet in the women’s locker room at the Bike Patrol Office; that the Appellant left said toilet unflushed; that the Appellant subsequently obtained a brown substance and spread it on the toilet seat giving the seat the appearance that it had fecal matter on it; and that one of his motivations for…doing these things was his resentment of a female officer who asked that the men keep out of the women’s restroom or…keep it clean…”
Arbitrator Thomas A. Cipolla went on to write that: “The appellant failed to use good judgment and in turn exercised incredibly poor behavior” that he also said was “inappropriate under any reasonable circumstance”.
Luckhurst was previously terminated in 2016 after a department investigation determined that he placed feces in between slices of bread and gave it to a homeless man downtown while on duty.
The other incident at Bike Patrol Headquarters occurred later in that same year and Luckhurst was again given an indefinite suspension.
Luckhurst won his appeal for the feces sandwich incident in March 2019, after his legal representation was able to capitalize on a section of the local government code that prevents law enforcement agencies from disciplining an officer for conduct that occurred outside a 180-day window.
The arbitrator assigned to the toilet incident appeal, however, felt that SAPD Chief William McManus was justified in terminating Luckhurst because of the egregious nature of Luckhurst’s conduct aimed at women, according to a city press release announcing the decision Friday evening.
The City of San Antonio agrees.
“This individual clearly has no business wearing an SAPD uniform, and it should never have been this hard to fire him,” City Manager Erik Walsh said. “I am pleased that this is behind us, but the contract provision that gave him more chances than he deserved remains an obstacle to the Chief’s ability to discipline officers who fail to live up to SAPD’s standards.”
Officials with the city and the San Antonio Police Officers Association are expected to begin negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement early next year.
Protesters in San Antonio in recent weeks, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, have called on the city to reform or even defund its police department.
Luckhurst’s arbitration took place over several days earlier this year.
His attorney, Ben Sifuentes, argued that terminating Luckhurst for the prank was extreme and that a 2016 suspension of an SAPD officer for harassment of a female police explorer was a suitable baseline for this case. The Arbitrator rejected both of those arguments, saying that the firing did “not appear to be excessive, out of line or an abuse.”
Sifuentes did not respond to a request for comment Friday night.